Quick-Thinking Worker Saves Rare ‘Star Wars’ Death Star Prop from Landfill

It was a long time ago when after the filming of Star Wars: A New Hope, props from the set were thrown away as garbage, but one piece survived and now it’s up for auction for fans willing to pay big bucks for a piece of the movie that changed the film industry.

Entertainment collectible retailer, Hollywood Memorabilia, posted an auction last Thursday for an original piece of the Death Star from A New Hope. The section of the moon-sized space station is one piece of many that were used for the assault on the Death Star scene where the squadron of rebel pilots flew in to destroy it via a small exhaust port.

It’s already surpassed $10,000 in the auction so far. Not only is this a rare piece of movie history, this prop has its own story of survival.

Dimensions for Death Star set piece


In the auction’s description, after the filming of A New Hope, many props from the movie were thrown away. It was a former employee of Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) who saved this particular piece of the set from a landfill, but that person’s name was not published at their request. At 23 inches long and 11 inches wide, it was a big piece fo save. That person kept the prop for 37 years. The piece went from the former ILM employee to autograph expert Steve Grad. A regular on the show Pawn Stars as their resident authenticator of signed memorabilia, Grad kept the part of the set for the last four years.

Original Death Star sectional piece


There are two letters of authenticity for the set piece. One is from Lorne Peterson who was a modeler at ILM. He worked on the original trilogy as well as the prequel trilogy along with some of the easily forgettable movies such as 1985’s Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. The other letter is from Jonathan Erland. Erland was also an ILM model builder for A New Hope.

From left to right:  Jonathan Erland, Steve Grad, Lorne Peterson


The auction for an original piece of the Death Star ends on June 6 at 9 p.m. Eastern. As the case with high-profile auctions like the one, buyers will have to apply to be qualified in order to submit a bid, which means filling out a document. At the time of this writing, the auction has 45 bids with the highest currently at $10,600.

It was in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, when fans finally learned why a station the size of the moon and could destroy planets had one random flaw that could start a chain reaction to destroy it. Fans also learned a bit more about the Millennium Falcon and Han Solo prior to his participation in the assault on the Death Star in Solo: A Star Wars Story, but the spinoff is not doing too hot at the box office.

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